Big Family Morning Routine

Today’s post is by my friend Katie. Katie wrote her first guest post back in September last year Our Big Family Story. This post Katie share more about her family and how her and her husband go about life with 8 kids.

There is just so much to love about this post – Katie’s love for her family, her honesty that family life is not perfect, that sometimes you do make concessions to keep the peace and her openness to trying new things for her family.

I find Katie’s story inspiring and encouraging I hope you do too!

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Around six months ago I wrote a post for Nicole’s blog called ‘Our Big Family Story’.  I received such beautiful feedback from readers that when she asked me to write another post, I jumped at the opportunity.  This time I am writing about ‘Our School Morning Routine’, although I appear to have become a little lost at times.  We are a family of ten – Mum and Dad, and eight children ranging in age from twelve down to two years.  We have one set of twins who are three years old.  Our eldest is our only son.  We have seven gorgeous daughters.

Keeping it special

There is a total artistry to a family.  It’s a real, living creation.  I often feel that I am painting a picture.  It’s about adding a little bit of everything, colour and texture, and trying to make it work.  It’s seeing where the good bits are and bolstering up the bits that are falling apart.  It’s terrifying sometimes, the responsibility we have for all of these little lives.  It’s not always about having all the answers yourself, but leading the children in the right direction.  I love other people contributing to our children’s lives.  That they would care enough to do so is a beautiful thing.

In the morning I try to acknowledge each of the children when they wake up.  It might be a little hug or an arm around the shoulder.  What does it achieve?  Maybe not much but I want them all to feel special – because they are!  Each one of our children is startlingly different and yet there is a similarity to them all that is palpable and has a heartbeat.

I like to give everyone a kiss goodbye in the morning, and as they arrive home.  When you live in a home with the same people day after day, week after week, year after year; when you have seen them pretty much every day of their existence it only takes a few seconds of connecting with them to ascertain a general snapshot of how they are, or how their day is beginning or ending.

Up and going!

These days my husband and I are up at 6.30am six days a week.  Our eldest has commenced secondary school this year.  This involves train travel for him and everybody seems to be up half an hour earlier. At least one morning a week when he has a particularly heavy bag, or it is raining, I drive him to the station.  I have purchased a navy and white striped nightgown that I kid myself looks like a maxi dress.  Invariably, it is me, in my maxi dress come nightgown dashing out to the car with sideways glances in the adjoining neighbour’s direction for fear of being ‘sprung’.  It’s not ideal, and it’s moments like these you realise that you have morphed into your own parents.

I attempt to shower as soon as I rise, or invariably, it is after 9am by the time I have the opportunity.  And relaxing showers really are a thing of the past.  My body has been examined in the most minute detail.  I can’t stand looking at myself naked these days.  And I really don’t need to because over the years every child has described each part of my body and its current state of collapse in morbid and confronting honesty.

Tidying

I make our bed and tidy the bedroom after my shower.  I have to seriously work at being tidy.  It does not come easily.  I find it entirely effortful.  When I look at my less than ideally organised pantry – I am totally overwhelmed.  And I know this is ridiculous.  I can care for eight children and yet I am beaten by a pantry.  And it eats at me. I have had a peek at Nic’s posts on ‘organisation’ and that is what I want and need.  I think it’s a bit like losing weight.  The initial loss is difficult but staying that way, it’s a lifetime commitment.  I think that also warbles around in the recesses of my mind.

My sister-in-law, well, I like to think she has tidy eyes.  I don’t have tidy eyes.  She sees a state of disorganized chaos and immediately she is separating/compartmentalizing items into uses, colours, sizes.  I see the same mess and frankly, I am brought to my knees.  I don’t know where to begin.  My husband says start in the corner, but which one? And then I keep looking away from the corner to the overwhelming mess in every other direction – and I am beaten.  And I see the same signs in some of our children.  So I try to help them tidy so they can experience a little bit of head clearing, and be confident that it is not impossible.  The truth is it takes every bit of my concentration and attention and organizational capacity to do this with them.  And I know the path ahead for them is a tricky one! My girlfriend, Angela, put things slightly in perspective.  She said, “What would you like on your gravestone?  Kept a tidy house?”.

Meals

I then head off to the kitchen to make the children’s lunches.  I use a mixture of Tupperware containers and velcro fastening satchels to house the children’s lunches.  I used to use a LOT of cling wrap, but got to the point where I was throwing out too much plastic to feel comfortable with.  Two mornings a week the twins attend a local kindergarten.  These mornings it is seven lunches I prepare.  It becomes quite overwhelming and confusing!

Our three-year-old twins are still having bottles – if I’m honest, it’s probably three a day.  I figure it’s just healthy milk in a vessel regardless of the action they choose to get it to their stomachs.  I know they will be over it soon – the others were.  One of the twins still has a dummy, the other sucks her thumb, and both have ‘ruggies’ which now seems a very generous term for the ragged pieces of matted wool they drag around.  (They were once gorgeous ‘shawls’ knitted lovingly by my mother-in-law.  They have now literally been loved to death!

We are trying to encourage the children to eat brown bread – but there is consistent resistance.  Our lunches are not terribly exciting.  All of the children have a sandwich with either vegemite, ham and sauce (I’m hearing you!!!) or jam (it’s fruit with energy!!!).  I have usually baked treats (biscuits, cupcakes, muffins, pikelets).  Maybe some yoghurt or biscuits and cheese and always cut up fruit and/or vegetables.  I have separate containers for the fresh fruit in warmer weather, which I pop into the freezer for 30 minutes before the children leave for school.  This all seems to work fairly well.  There are, of course always complaints!!!  And frantic swapping of food items and lunches before the children head out the door.  I very rarely buy supermarket snack food (think muesli bars, LCM bars).  I sometimes feel a bit panicked at the thought of not having these back ups in the cupboard.  But we manage.

After the lunches are done, I make my husband and I a coffee from our fabulous coffee machine.  It was my 40th birthday present! It is definitely my morning drug of choice!!!  I feel I am having a little break and some decadence when I drink from my beautiful handmade porcelain cup.  By this time other children have arisen, the television is on (I know! I know!) and I am helping the other children prepare their breakfast.  We don’t set up the night before.  I worked in a ‘Special Accommodation Home’ (with elderly people) whilst I was studying at Uni, and honestly, setting up for breakfast the night before – I am happy to wait until later for that!  The children generally have weetbix, cornflakes – or on school holidays for a special treat I usually purchase some sugary, not so good for you breakfast cereals as a ‘treat’.  The school-aged children are expected to put their breakfast dishes in the dishwasher.  The littlies bring their dishes to the sink, which is necessary but sometimes more trouble than it is worth with the amount of spillage.  My son has recently completed a school science project investigating the difference between A1 and A2 milk, so despite the cost difference we have committed to buying A2 milk for the health benefits (all four litres per day!).  Let’s see how long it lasts!

Help!

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4-6 pm my gorgeous nieces (aged 15 and 17) come to help, one each day.  They make the lunches for the next day, so that on Wednesday and Friday mornings all I need to prepare is the fruit in the mornings.  They also bake treats for lunchboxes, tidy up, help with baths and listen to the children’s readers (which I seem to have lost a level of enthusiasm for).  Not only is the extra assistance fantastic but also it is so wonderful for our children to spend time with their older cousins and get to know and love them.

Billy

We have a recent new addition to the family.  No more babies, but a gorgeous cavoodle named ‘Billy’.  So, I let Billy Bonkers out of his crate in the laundry (nobody is EVER as excited to see me as Billy!!!!), which is actually an entirely luxurious boudoir.  I pop him outside to do his ‘business’ and try to keep an eye on where it lands for future retrieval.  I, or one of the children feed him his breakfast, and he has a big run around the backyard with his very little legs.  He really is a darling, and does not shed hair.  He can already ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ and we are all having fun practicing walking him on a lead, which he is not so comfortable with.  And he has created some hilarious moments in our home.  The other day, one of our three-year-old twins was seen holding a doggie biscuit up to our two year old’s face.  “Go on, here, have a dog biscuit” she wheedled.  “Nooooo!” exclaimed two year old with her plump little mouth in a defiant pout.  “Go on – have one! Like you did yesterday!!!!”.

I won’t go too deeply into the pros and cons of acquiring a pooch, suffice to say we wanted a little friend for the children who would possibly provide them with comfort when everyone and everything else seemed to be failing them.  For me, it really felt just like taking on another little body to care for.  For my entire life I have so not been a doggy person.  Don’t like the breath, the saliva, or the poo!! No good can come of a creature that licks its own ‘bits’ and then wants to lick you!!!  But I was never really into children either, and that changed; so we thought we would give it a red-hot go.  And really, I love him.  He is totally one of us now.  I worry about little Billy when we leave him.  And I still don’t like other people’s dogs (very) much!  But I do love ours!

Getting the clan ready

Once the children have begun eating breakfast or at least looking as though they are heading that way, I start getting the three stay at home littlies dressed.  So, I take them one at a time to their bedroom, and throw the dirty linen/washing out into the hallway to be collected later.  If I am in a room dressing a child I will pull the blind up, and tidy as I go – making the bed, putting any clean clothes away, tidy wardrobe etc.  If I am walking past the laundry at any time during the morning I load up the washing machine and the dryer.

There are serial spot fires in our home every morning.  Our son is a bit of a stirrer, so he may find a few spare seconds to frighten one of the girls (knocking on the bathroom window from outside is always a good one).  As exasperating and ridiculous as I find this, it is clearly of immense pleasure to him.  There are lots of “I can’t find my tights!”.  Or someone slipping into Winter uniform for the first time this year, “My tights don’t fit!”.   There is screaming because one girl has pilfered (knowingly of course!) another girl’s sports shorts.  “Do I have sport today?”.  “Please can you phone Amelia’s mum and ask her??????”. These types of hold ups I have no time for.  “Where are my piano books?”.   Me yelling “Have you made your beds? PLEASE make your beds!  I am not your maid!” (insert my mother’s voice here).

It is bedlam.  Five days a week.  If the children have not brought their lunch containers to the kitchen the previous afternoon to be washed, then they have to make their own lunch the next day (and they don’t like that –at all). Our rule making is a somewhat fluid thing.  Some expectations are concrete, however others are open to change and negotiation.  I am always readily open to ideas from other people. My sister-in law informed me of what I think are fantastic rules which we have adopted.  Two of our children are serial offenders at avoiding brushing their teeth regularly.  My husband lines the children’s toothbrushes up every night so we can see who is dodging the brush.  I get that it’s late, and they are tired.  And maybe they have visited the dentist recently, so the next visit is, well, seriously, months away!!!  We have been known to haul the serial offenders to the bathroom from a deep slumber to clean their teeth.  However, since we have installed “the rule” of no cleaning teeth – NOTHING sweet to eat the next day – we have had no trouble!  We only had to follow it up once, with little reminders occasionally.  The other rule is if their bed is not made then they have to sleep without their pillow that night.  My sister in law has made her ten and seven year old children sign a ‘contract of teeth brushing and bed making’ which sits on their fridge.

Walking to School

Our four primary school aged children walk to school together.  It is so wonderful to not have to pack all of the children into the car and drive them.  I know that they must arrive at school with their heads a bit refreshed.  It is great for their independence.  Today the four primary school girls wandered off sharing umbrellas.  I still worry about them crossing the road and they always have to have my eleven-year-old daughter with them (in theory).

Fresh is Best!

In my experience the mornings run a lot more smoothly, with consistently less angst if we have been to bed at a reasonable hour the night before.  Of course this is not always possible.  That’s how I know this to be true! This is becoming considerably more difficult to negotiate, as the children are getting older.  I really need that hour and a half in the evening with my husband.  We’re not always staring adoringly into eachother’s eyes.  One of us might be on the computer, the other watching the television, but there is a fair amount of banter back and forth about funny incidents that have occurred during the day, and any concerns we have for the children.  We have endless cups of tea (one is never enough these days!).  I miss my husband sometimes.  Even though we are living in the same house, I miss that one on one time to connect.  And I am also aware how precious that time is when we have it.

Grocery Shopping

This morning I went shopping.  It sounds like a simple exercise, but with three sick children in tow, it was far from the highlight of my day.  I didn’t take the pusher, because with the cupboards close to empty I needed to do quite a large shop, and required a trolley.  The girls were very good – and trailed along beside and behind me-until we left the supermarket positioned inside a large shopping centre.  My two year old sat on the ground in the middle of the trolley traffic screaming, “I want my dummy!”. “I want my rug!”.  “I want my lollies!”.  Yes, I had succumbed-they had a packet of ‘tic tacs’ each. Of course, she wanted none of these things.  She wanted to be out of this shopping centre with her sick little self tucked into bed.  And in the ideal world that is where she would be.  I know this because every time one of these three comfort items was offered to her she pinged it as far away as she possibly could.

I just had to get the fish for dinner.  I was determined.  I would be able to see her from the fish shop.  She had shuffled herself out of the line of trolley traffic.  I began to slowly push the trolley towards the fish shop.  Then our very sensitive three year old could take it no longer and screamed, “Pick her up Mum, pick her up!”.  I was inwardly groaning, thinking ‘how am I going to hold a squirming, screaming two year old, maneuver an overloaded trolley, watch two three year olds and manage to order/give/receive money from fish shop lady?’.  Aaaaahhhhhh!!!!  There are times as a parent I think you are completely entitled to indulge in self-pity.  This was one.  Many other shoppers were giving me sympathetic nods and smiles as I held my tight-lipped grimace.  Anyway, I did it!  Tick groceries, tick fish – forget the bread!  I was now attempting to navigate a very full trolley, screaming toddler on one hip, very heavy handbag on one shoulder and keeping an eye on the twins.

We made it onto the escalator, and as I glanced back I realised that one of the girls had dropped her ‘ruggie’ at the top of the escalator, and I was going to have to travel back up and retrieve it.  Thankfully a very kind gentleman brought the rug down to my screaming toddler and me.  In one last display of defiance, my two year old pinged her dummy and it landed in between the two glass panels of the escalators, where I was unable to retrieve it from with my short arms. It was of great amusement to my three children and many onlookers to see me make many trips up and down the escalator, extended fingers just out of reach of that desirable piece of plastic.  Until a woman with two children and clearly a larger residual brain capacity than me whipped her trusty purse from her bag, made a final ascent and hockey swiped it down the escalator to me.  If it weren’t all so depressing, along with two year old still screaming throughout the entire incident, it would have almost been funny!

(Dis)Organisation

I should add that I am writing this post on pieces of paper I have scrounged from inside the car as I wait for the RACV to arrive.  Spectacularly, I have run out of petrol less than one hundred metres from home and on our way to kinder.  I knew I was cutting it fine –clearly a little too fine!  And I am achieving quite a lot due to the length of time my on road assistance vehicle is taking to arrive.  My husband has collected the twins from our breakdown point and taken them to kindergarten (a great advantage of him working close by – for me, not him!).  One thing I have learned is not to waste a moment.  If I can possibly achieve two or three things at once I do.  Whilst performing one task my mind is usually ahead of my hands planning the next ‘thing’ to be done.  And I fall down – all the time.  I bumble, I make things up as I go. If you are looking for flaws, I have plenty!  But I do my best to juggle it all.   And most of the time it all feels like a great big exciting adventure.  Most of the time.

I have added a lunch box (or morning cuppa time) recipe for Chocolate Chip biscuits.  I have tried countless different recipes for these biscuits and I totally think this is the best and so do the children!  I generally double the recipe.  And I have a fabulous mixer-so I throw all ingredients in and turn mixer on!  However I have included the more considered approach below.

Cadbury Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Edit: I have added this photo of my cookies that I baked using Katie’s recipe – they are delicious!

Cadbury Choc Chip Cookies
Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter (softened)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup Cadbury milk chocolate baking chips/bits

Method:

  1. Cream butter and sugars.  Mix in egg and vanilla.  Stir in flour and fold through choc chips.
  2. Place teaspoonfuls on lined baking trays.  Bake 12-15 mins at 160 degrees in a fan forced oven.

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As Katie so honestly puts it “I have to seriously work at being tidy.  It does not come easily.  I find it entirely effortful.” Is there an element of family life you find you have to work really work at? (I will add mine in the comments below too.)

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62 comments...read them below or add one

  • Deirdre May 11, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I do find housework tiring at times, but I recently read of taking a Zen approach to it.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      Hi Deirdre
      I am all for anything that makes housework more enjoyable. I am going to google the Zen approach!! Thanks for the suggestion.>

  • Sarah May 11, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Dealing with head lice I find a complete chore. We have 4 girls in primary school and this year already we have had headline 4 times!!!!!!!!

    After looking at Katie’s gorgeous girls’ hair, I was wondering if she had any advice on preventing head lice and how she has dealt with it, if her girls have had it before?

    • Lucy Morgan-Jones May 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      > Hi Sarah, for getting rid of headlice, I’ve tried 2 different approaches. 1. The conditioner and showercap approach. Buy large bottles of cheap conditioner, cover childs hair with as much conditioner as it will hold and pop a shower cap on. Leave an hour or so, then comb it all out. The nits are suffocated and eggs (mostly) comb out. This is ok, but needs to be done several times a week. 2. Kerosine approach. My hairdresser suggested this and I do this now whenever my girls get nits. Fill a spray bottle with kerosine. I pop a handtowel around the bottom of their neck, to prevent spray getting on their clothes. Then carefully, avoiding as much skin as possible, spray kero all over their hair, rubbing it in as you go. Once the hair is all covered, then comb out (I wipe the comb on a piece of paper towel as i go). The kero kills the nits first go, and the eggs come mostly out. Do again in a week as nits have a weekly cycle. Take child to the shower and wash out hair, avoiding getting it in their eyes. A couple of applications of shampoo gets it out. The smell will linger for a few days and do put a towel over their pillow. BUT, this does work! Unlike many high priced bottles on the shelf in many supermarkets and it is definitely cheaper.

      I hope this helps and you can be nit free soon, no matter what method you use :)

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      >Hi Sarah. We are incredibly familiar with headlice. The first time I saw them in my daughter’s hair I did a little dance I was so horrified! Despicable little creatures – but great survivors!!! We have had them once only this year. But many times prior to that! Every single time I had a new baby, I would find head lice in someone’s hair. It always seemed a little extra to add to the exhaustion! I think they like any type of hair – they are not fussy. I have tried putting spray in detangler in girl’s hair – did it work? Who knows!!! I always treat all of the kids. The kids that I know have them I treat (and I mean drench) their hair with product. This time we used ‘Banlice Mousse” which was very effective, and didn’t smell. The kids liked it because they weren’t concerned about the other kids at school smelling the ‘product’ in their hair. In the past I have treated kids with lice on days 1, 4 and 7/8. And kids with no visible signs of eggs or live lice on days 1 and 7/8 only. I comb through their hair after each time I have treated. I have found it almost impossible to ‘see’ live lice in everyone’s hair. Combing through is really the best way to find them. I use a metal fine toothed comb (nasty things!). Good Luck!!!

  • emma @ frog goose & bear May 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Really enjoyed reading this and feeling very normal! Thank you for such honesty Katie.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      > Thanks Emma.

  • Peta May 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

    We only have two kids, but I really struggle to keep their room tidy. They have do many toys with little pieces and they end up all over the floor. I much rather just close the door than work with them to tidy it up because they complain so much.

    • Kaie May 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      > Hi Peta. I couldn’t tell you how many Barbie shoes, crowns and beads I have sucked up the vacuum cleaner! We have a lot of cane baskets on the kid’s library shelves that I throw all of the toys in. Every now and then I clear them out and reorganise them. It is overwhelming sometimes. I so get the shutting the door!!!

  • Heather May 11, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Oh my gosh, I LOVED this post. Katie, I salute you 100 times over…your honesty and good humour are utterly inspiring. Keep doing what you’re doing. Sharing your challenges is the best thing you can do as a mum. Look forward to hearing more.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks Heather. You have made my day!>

  • jodi May 11, 2012 at 10:47 am

    thank you thank you thank you – for this fabulous post. I only have 4 kids (aged 13 to 4) and they are doing my head in this week… it is just so wonderful to read of your ‘normal’ morning routine – with the love and chaos. Reading this has put a smile on my face and I now feel more able to tackle my day. xx

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      Dear Jodi. It totally thrills me to think that I made your day a little easier. Thanks!>

  • Lena May 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Your comments about your husband really touched me Katie. I am often so cranky and tired at the end of my day (and I only have 3) that I can’t be bothered talking to my husband. Thanks for the reminder that I need to make more of an effort. All the best to your lovely family.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      Thanks Lena! It is difficult to make that effort in the evening. My husband is presently snoozing on the couch! Not much love and appreciation going on here tonight!!! x>

  • Lulu May 11, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Thanks for a great post Katie-very honest and that’s just what we need to hear! Family life can be far from perfect ( no one lives in a styled magazine shoot where everything floats along gorgeously) and I think the more that parents share this kind of honesty, the better we will ALL feel about being mums and dads : ). I am having to work hard at keeping my cool when Miss 3 1/2 and Miss nearly 2 start acting up (together) and the baby starts crying (count to 10 anyone ?)

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      Hi Lulu. Goodness your three gorgeous one’s are close together in age!! Which is totally lovely for them and a lot of hard work at the moment!!! I always expect that every day there will be 2-3 crescendo moments where it feels like the house will explode. Tonight it was my 5 year old screaming that she wants her ears pierced NOW! Of course, that’s not happening – so she screamed for maybe 30 minutes (it felt like an hour). And during that time the phone rang, the pup ran wild throughout the house, our two year old filled her nappy and i was trying to watch the twins in the bath. Count to 10, or 20 – or find somewhere to hide until it settles down (whilst keeping an eye on the ones in the bath)!!!>

  • Bryony May 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    What a beautiful family you have. I am in awe of you I have to say, I am chasing my tail with 3! You post is certainly a great motivator for me when I’m in the midst of another crazy day. You sound like a fantastic mum :)

    • Kaiie May 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Thanks Bryony. I appreciate your comment very much. Most days I do ‘circle work’. Walk around in circles and pick things up – and then do it all agin…and again….and again…xxxx

  • Ali May 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for your lovely post Katie – love your honesty and reminder that it is none of us do it perfectly every time, but we do try! And that despite the chaos and mess, we are doing a very special job. I could read every day you write about doing simple things like having a shower! I feel like I am reading about my life, making me feel so much more normal.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Thanks Ali. It means a lot to me that my day is familiar to you.!! > It is an incredibly special job we have. Every day I love it. And every day it drives me insane!!! x

  • Becci May 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Your moments of chaos sound like our house except I only have 2 kids! I absolutely hate making lunches and have only just started making them the night before. But more than half the time they come back with only the treat being eaten. I have tried everything. Also I’m not a morning person and would love the time each morning to sit down with my husband and have a real coffee. Good on you for everything you’ve achieved, just in one day!

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      Thanks Becci. The lunches are a chore. With so many to make now I find it a mental challenge!!!> My kids sometimes leave their fruit. Then they have eat it for afternoon tea or dessert that night. And my two nieces are stricter than me-which is beautiful!!! x

  • Carli May 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    What a wonderful post. I only have 3 but I relate to every aspect!

    In particualr, your comment about time with your husband resonated with me. My oldest also atarted high school this year and now has a later bed time.

    I have struggled to adjust to having her up later as it has always been the time my husband makes me a cup of tea and we catch up on ‘couple time’ even if most of the time that is actually watching TV together.

    My morning concession is that the 12yo and 7yo must make their own lunch in the morning. The rules are something subdtantial (usually a sandwich), something sweet and something from fruit or veg. If the lunch box comes home with the fruit/veg still there, no sweet the next day. Funnily enough neither of them have ever thought to not bring it home if they don’t eat it! At least I know thay are not sneaky.

    • Kaiie May 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Thanks Carli. I am so with you on the bringing the fruit home. Mine still do it too. It’s so honest and endearing.> And it is so difficult to lose that lone time in the evening. When you think of it there is a gradual shift over the years to them tucking us into bed!!! (not too soon though!). x

  • Lindsey May 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I loved this post. So honest, comforting and inspiring and I could relate to so much of it. Whilst I aspire to be more like Nicole, I too find being tidy an effort and am constantly overwhelmed by all the junk surrounding me. I was so stoked last night to find my husband had actually picked up the kids’ dirty clothes from the bathroom floor and emptied the bath as I seem to be constantly picking up everyone else’s clothes. I only have 2 children but, with both of us working, my husband also studying and me still breastfeeding our 11 month old, our house is far more like the one described here than Nicole’s beautifully organised home. Thank you for keeping it real and reminding me it’s okay to wing it. You have a beautiful family. And thanks, Nicole for your inspiring lessons in organising the chaos. I will get round to following your advice some day.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      Thanks Lindsay. That’s gorgeous. You are a very busy family!! You do a great job to juggle it all. The house bit will wait….the other bits won’t!!!. I understand the divineness of a little bit of help. My five year old loves putting the clothes away. She entered each bedroom last night and said “excuse me, can I interrupt????”.She commented to me excitedly that it made her feel like a “maid”!!!!> And that apparently was a great thing!!! x

  • Susan May 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you for a wonderful post, it was frank and brought a smile to my face. Eight children and a terrific sense of fun, you are doing well Kate. I have four and find making it on time to activities my biggest challenge. If i need to do clothes shopping I will take the child out of school for the morning, I find this keeps my sanity.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:29 pm

      I am with you Susan on the taking the child out of school. It’s a little discovery I have made clearly along with you. And every now and then I let them have a sickie even if I am not entirely convinced they are unwell (enough). Thanks for your lovely comment. x>

  • cas May 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    what a delightful post. funny, enlightening & completely honest. i could totally relate & felt i had no reason to complain when i dont even have half as many children as katie. the analogy of the head stone was perfect, the comparison of the pantry versus the care for the children brilliant. the rouitne & how things do manage to get done. the overwhelming angst of where to start tidying. the list goes on…i wanted to read more !! well done katie & thanks for sharing :) p.s. what gorgeous children you have, you must be enormously proud (even if the house isnt tidy)

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks Cas. I enjoyed reading your comment. The tidying bit does my head in. I must redeem myself a little and say that the house is generally quite clean and tidy – with wayward focus areas. Namely the pantry, under the kitchen sink, children’s wardrobes. The linen press is quite good at the moment. > But it’s the maintenance – it’s so hard!!!! x

  • Jacquie May 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    What a great post. Thanks so much for sharing Katie – I only have 3 kids but I can relate to all of this too. I also find keeping the house tidy extremely effortful & it’s definitely a work in progress. With regards to your son being a stirrer – I have 3 boys & they are all like that so our mornings I’m forever redirecting them & shouting & trying to keep them on track while they are chasing & wrestling & distracting each other quite happily!

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Thanks Jacquie. I think the stirring is very much a boy thing. I must say I find it quite amusing at times. I know this is wrong but I can’t help it!!! I try not to show my amusement!!!! x>

  • Jacie May 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Katie, you write beautifully and leave us wanting more – always the sign of a good piece of work!
    Thank you for including this post Nicole – hope we can hear more from Katie.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks Jacie. That is lovely feedback that has made me stand a little taller. x>

  • Cath May 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    What a refreshingly honest piece! Thank you so much.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm

      Thanks Cath. I appreciate your comment. x>

  • Lisa May 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Katie you are the most amazing mother I know. What you pack into your day and your family is truly amazing and a tribute to you. I struggle with one sometimes. We can all relate to your trip to the supermarket for many years I gave up any specialty shops and if I couldn’t get it from the supermarket then I went without. Well done on such a great blog

    • katie May 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      Lisa!!!! You know it’s the mutual admiration club for us!!! Thinking of what you juggle with such diplomacy, love and passion inspires me every day. x>

  • lisa May 11, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    love love love this post. more please!

    and seems like it’s not just me, that lots of others are concerned about losing the precious hour of evening time with their husbands and partners when kids start going to bed later/homework takes over the night.
    So are there any mums with older kids who have tips for us with younger ones on how we could handle this? short of locking kids in their bedroom at 6pm which is as far as my future strategy thinking has got…

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm

      Hi Lisa. That is hilarious but of course i won’t try it as tempting as it sounds!!! I think our families is evolving and changing all the time. Some of the changes a re exciting and others are downright depressing! It is so hard to let go of those precious bits of time. I guess it becomes about trying to slot them somewhere else into the day – which is difficult!!! Thanks so much for your comment. x>

  • Tupperware Australia May 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Katie, a delightful insight into your amazing family. Your daily efforts are beyond the imaginings of most families these days yet you sound like you’re still having fun.
    Tupperware Australia would like to help you out with your ‘less than ideally organised pantry’ by giving you a Modular Mates Essential Collection. In future when you open those pantry doors, it should be to order rather than despair.
    For all the other mums, we invite you to send us a photo of your pantry chaos for a opportunity to win one of these great sets. See our Facebook page for details.
    Happy Mother’s Day everybody.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      > That is a totally lovely and generous offer. I have been eyeing off those ‘Modular Mates’ longingly at the plethora of Tupperware parties I have attended over the years. Thank you!! Also wishing everybody a gorgeous ‘Mother’s Day’ on Sunday. As cliche as it is I am a big fan of ‘Mother’s Day’!!! x

  • Beet May 11, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    being tidy is a very effortful endevour for me as well. I don’t have “tidy eyes” either lol

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      >Dear Beet. The most driving factor in my push against natural inclinations to messiness is the fact that I LOVE a tidy house. It clears my head. I can think more clearly and I feel as though life is going swimmingly. When things are untidy, I feel that everything else is or may fall part (at any moment!). Ridiculous, I know!! Wish you could buy tidy eyes. Or just have a turn of them every now and then!

  • Marianne May 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I loved reading about Katie’s day! I too find being tidy hard. I have 4 kids who think that playing outside is a form of punishment. Instead they run around like crazy inside. I have decided that I may need to coax them outside then lock the door! Great work ladies, I’m loving these blog posts!

    • Katie May 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Hi Marianne. I remember as a child being pushed out the door and told to go and get some “air” and not come back until lunchtime!!!! And we had so much fun. Our parents would have died at the places we went on our bikes and the probably careless danger we put ourselves in. Kids do spend a lot more time indoors now. And of course now we have the pup who is running nuts with them. Happy Mother’s Day to you too!! I am currently eating French toast and drinking a gorgeous coffee made by my big boys! And I have been told to sit down! Heaven!

  • Laine Yates May 13, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Katie – I’ve Been up since 4.30am (jet lag has set in) and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your post! Your honesty is refreshing and your ability to laugh at your chaotic life is inspiring! I’ve got 2crazy boys and the thought of school runs in the morning on Monday (after a 6 week family holiday abroad) is daunting, but I feel slightly more prepared for the “normalness” of the start of crazy school days! Happy Mother’s Day! Looking forward to reading more from you!

  • Katie May 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Hi Laine. Seriously, if you can do 6 weeks abroad with 2 boys you are a mamma who can do anything!!! I am entirely envious. Bet you have some gorgeous memories!! Happy Mother’s Day to you!!! Hoping you can send the boys off to school tomorrow and then tuck yourself in!! Your comment is much appreciated! xxx

  • Nic May 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    I feel guilty sometimes when sitting at the computer reading, when my house is in disarray & my boys are ‘mum-ming’ me. But to day is Mother’s Day and I’d have to say a big THANK YOU to Katie. I am doing OK!!! Your mornings sound like my mornings, mind you I only have 3 boys (under 6) but somedays I wonder if I house about 10 little boys!!! Thank you for sharing NORMALITY with me. I will say it again – my mantra for today – I am doing OK!

  • deanna May 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    HELLO KATIE!! i too am a mum of 8..Four of each type between almost 17 and 2 years old. I absolutely adored your last post but loved this one even more. Sometimes i find it daunting having to come back into my house in the mornings (after morning drop-offs) due to me having to do the things others have not done. After i have done the kiddies jobs for them i write a list of who did what and who did not. As i meet them at the bus stop it gives us all a chance of talking and seeing what they need to do to be a bit more responsible and independent. Before i read your first post i felt like i was a little insane having to explain myself to others about all the questions people ask of you when you have abig family. My response nowadays is that i do what i do and luv the way i do it because in the long run i get loved for doing it. Have a wonderful MUM OF 8 DAY. You and PQ make me feel that little bit more normal reading your inspirational and honest posts. Thank you a heap

    • Katie May 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      Hi Deanna. I remember your reply from the last post and it is lovely to chat again!!! That’s a fab idea of how to support the kids to keep on top of their home responsibilities. I find it incredibly frustrating to keep repeating requests over and over to no avail! I know what you mean about being overwhelmed doing the morning house tidy!!! It generally takes me until 10.30am to finish tidying and cleaning properly, in between managing the three stay at home littlies. I agree people are often intrigued to understand how the logistics of a large family works. I am finding that as the children are getting bigger we are going through an enormous amount of food and I can barely stay on top of the baking. I hope you have had a gorgeous Mother’s Day and I am very grateful for your lovely comments. xxxxxxx

  • Jen May 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    thanks Katie for this insight – having no ‘real life’ experience of big families I found your post fascinating and loved your description of how a family as an evolving, organic, work of art. I loved that analogy! If you ever have time for another post, I’ld love to hear about the logistics of managing your troop in other situations, e.g. how you get them around, how you manage extra-curricular activities, birthday parties, going out to dinner, going on holidays etc. Also, I am so impressed by the gorgeous photo of all your kids actually smiling – I’m yet to get a picture with my kids looking happy and I only have two!

    • Katie May 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Jen. Thanks for your lovely comment. It is so much appreciated. You know, as far as managing getting the kids around, extra-curricular activities, parties, dinners-I have to really stop and think, how on earth do we manage it????? But we do, with a lot of help from our divine friends and family. And I am right with you on the difficulty of taking a ‘happy’ photo of everyone!!!! I am very lucky to be writing a couple more posts later in the year and am really looking forward to it. I hope you have had a beautiful Mother’s Day, and thanks for taking the time to comment!!!! xxxxxxx>

  • Lynn May 15, 2012 at 6:34 am

    What a fabulous post! I just adored your honesty. Sounds like you do an extraordinary job. More posts please!!!!!

    • Katie May 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Hi Lynn. Thanks so much. I appreciate your gorgeous comments and am looking forward to sharing some more of the madness of our lives!!! Xxx>

  • Amanda May 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you so much for both your wonderful articles Katie, you are an inspiration! What you achieve every day is just unbelievable. I wanted to have 4 kids, hubby wanted only 1, so I think no 2 is a miracle. I used to be super mum who had a spotless house, meals cooked, kids looking perfect all with average 1 hour sleep a night. I nearly lost my first baby at 6 weeks, was told not to get my hopes up until 14 & then all sorts of stuff that could have happened from there. She was born fine, but I was not. For the first year I could not physically sleep more than 1 hour a day. By the time she was 10 months old I had a hyper manic episode, I could not write, talk or do anything really as my mind was racing so much. I was in hospital for 3 weeks & things got better. She is now 6 & her sister 3. Three months ago I had another episode with another 3 weeks in hospital & I now have to get used to mess & chaos as I try to get organized without being manic. Your comment about life is about them made me cry because you’re right & my kids have had to deal with a lot about Mummie having bipolar disorder. I hope they forgive me one day & my husband has been through hell. You have inspired me on my quest for balance within my family, if you can do it maybe I can too.
    Thank you:)

    • ERin June 05, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      > Amanda,
      What a story! You should never feel the need to apologise or seek forgiveness for something that you cannot control… Would you apologise if you were a diabetic? Bipolar is a medical condition that you have to live with and by the sounds of it you are strong and have sought help when you were floundering.
      You should be pround that you are a mum who loves her kids and knows her limitations. I know that it has taken me several years and several major episodes of depression for me to understand when to step back and give myself a break. I have had to accept that I am messy and disorganised and scatty. I never used to be but I am now. It sucks but its a small price to pay for not falling into that deep dark hole of depression.
      Stay strong, and know that when your kids are older and understand what Mum went through they will be so proud of you.
      Erin

  • Katie May 15, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Thanks Amanda for such an honest and endearing response. You are amazing. What an incredible amount of challenges you and your family have faced and managed. I believe that as our children grow they certainly develop a much greater level of understanding. I am not sure whether forgiveness is what you will need but understanding from your family that you were unwell for a time, and not able to be ‘yourself’. It is wonderful that at the peak of your difficulties you were able to spend time away becoming well. I know that these times are difficult but I think it creates some resilience in the family as well. They do manage. You have had a very difficult time. I think you are a woman of immense strength to have made it through all of this. Keep on going!!! It certainly sounds as though you have a wonderful and incredibly special family who have supported you. They must love you dearly. I will be thinking of you and am so appreciative of you sharing your difficult and triumphant story. xxxx

  • Erin June 05, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Katie,
    You are awesome!! You give out a vibe of serenity amongst the chaos.
    Sounds like a beautiful family you have.
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Erin

  • [...] Katie has previously shared moments of her family’s life on the blog:Our Big Family StoryOur Big Family School Morning RoutineEvery post Katie has written including the one below has made me cry. Katie writes beautifully and [...]